At the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists figured out how the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters cells and causes infection – using the ACE2 receptor. All current novel coronavirus vaccines and antibody-based therapies are designed to disrupt this cell entry pathway.
However, in a new study, the researchers found that one mutation gives SARS-CoV-2 the ability to enter cells in a different way that does not require ACE2. It looks like the virus can suddenly change and find new ways to infect the body. The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
It is unclear if an alternative pathway comes into play in real life when people are infected with SARS-CoV-2. Before researchers can figure this out, they must find an alternative receptor that the virus uses to enter cells.